Tide notebook: Saban wants more from offensive line
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Aug 10, 2013 | 2910 views |  0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Nick Saban has coached Alabama to two straight national titles. (Photo by Vasha Hunt/Associated Press)
Nick Saban has coached Alabama to two straight national titles. (Photo by Vasha Hunt/Associated Press)
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TUSCALOOSA -- Much has been made of Alabama’s new look offensive line and after the team’s first scrimmage, questions still remain.

Tide coach Nick Saban said the first team’s on both sides of the ball played well, but noted that the offensive line left a lot to be desired from a power blocking standpoint. Saban said the lack of power made it tough to run the ball consistently.

“I don’t think we got a lot of movement,” Saban said. “We didn’t play with a lot of power. Couple guys do, couple guys don’t. We’ve got to work on that and probably get better at that. But I thought the backs were very impressive.”

While the offensive line is still trying to find a cohesive group of starters, the Tide is also looking to build quality depth.

“The second-team offensive and defensive lines both were not what we’d like for them to be. They’ve got room to grow,” he said. “They’ve got room to improve. I think we’ve got the ability to develop. We need to get the right guys in the right spots. We’ve got to work them. This scrimmage evaluation certainly tells us a little bit about who we should be working with.”

SPECIAL TEAMS: One group Saban was pleased with was the special teams, in particularly punter Cody Mandell.

“The specialists were pretty good, actually. ... Cody has had a good camp punting the ball well," he said. "I think we’ve got some young players who can contribute on special teams.”

Saban noted that the key now will be enticing young players to commit to playing hard on special teams.

“The biggest thing we need to get guys to understand is the kind of effort you have to have on special teams to be a good special teams player,” he said. “And understand the importance of that. Because most of the guys that we recruit they didn’t develop their reputation by playing on special teams. So it’s important to sell them on the importance of how they can contribute to the team right now while developing as a player by being a good special teams player. …

“I don’t think many of our young ones got their five stars and four stars by how they played on special teams, so it’s something that has to be sold to them.”

BELUE SITS OUT: Cornerback Deion Belue has been hampered throughout preseason practice with a left hamstring injury. Belue has practiced with it wrapped, but has been limited during certain drills. He did not participate in the scrimmage.

“Deion Belue had a strained hamstring,” Saban said. “He’s practiced some. We did not scrimmage him today, just to try to keep him from setting back. You really can’t play corner three-quarter speed.”

Saban also mentioned that freshman linebacker Reuben Foster “got a stinger today in the practice.” He said that while players are banged up, no one is out.
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